Despite the prominence of millennials in the workforce, a recent study commissioned by Epicor and conducted by MORAR Consulting found that only 19% of distribution business leaders said recruiting millennials was a “fairly significant” or “major” focus for their organizations.
At the same time, companies find themselves dealing with a multigenerational workforce where differences in skills and mindset are heightened by the rapid changes in technology and digitalisation.
According to Mr Tang, Regional Vice President, Asia, Epicor, key to effectively engaging, aligning and leading the innovative workforce of tomorrow is to place employees at the centre of a company’s business plan. Organisations also need to keep up to date with the latest technology trends and adoption to aid innovation in the workforce, compete in today’s marketplace successfully, and achieve long-term competitiveness and growth.
“Ultimately alongside these elements, having the right leadership and direction will be crucial to having high performing teams,” he observed.
Employee experience, business growth and consumer experience
Elaborating further on what makes employee experience so important for a business’ growth, Mr Tang emphasises the need for highly engaged teams who have positive experiences to keep them engaged and motivated to do their jobs well. These are incredibly important because of the positive impact they can have on business growth.
As a business continues to grow, so do the needs of consumers. There is a relationship between employee and consumer experience: it is essential that businesses make sure that employees have access to the right systems and training where relevant to give the best possible experience for the customer.
For example, investments in technology systems will ensure that employees have the tools and data they need to be successful in their roles.
Human factors during rapid digital transformation
On that note, Mr Tang reminds businesses of the need to consider human factors in these times of increasingly rapid digital transformation.
“I believe that effective leadership is crucial in successful digital transformations. Leaders are responsible for setting the right mindset to encourage adoption of new systems and changing processes,” he said.
“Additionally, encouraging and listening to the concerns and needs of employees during a digital transformation will empower employees in a changing digital environment. Technology is an enabler of collaboration among employees, but success is ultimately determined by the buy-in from employees,” he added.
Experiencing transformation as growth, not disruption
Addressing the experience of many business leaders who found resistance towards digital transformation among their employees, Mr Tang shared how businesses can help their workers experience digital transformation as growth, rather than disruption.
“Preparing for a new digital transformation journey requires companies to work within themselves to focus on certain areas before growth can happen. Employee resistance to digital transformation often stems from the fear that their jobs will be replaced. Leaders should be transparent about digital changes and the impact on employees,” he advised.
Mr Tang also shared the importance of creating opportunities for employees to enhance their skills to ensure that they are upskilling at the same time as their job roles change. The benefits to employees can also be emphasised: with greater digitalisation, more time-driven tasks can be done digitally, leaving them to carry out the more strategic or personable tasks.
“Companies can start to see the benefits of digital transformation, once the mindset gap is bridged,” he concluded.
Managing a multi-generational workforce
Given the large changes in IT technology and the demands on IT professionals, businesses should consider how they can create an inclusive environment that values both older employees and millennials.
One way to do this, according to Mr Tang, is to tap on technology collaboration tools that make it easier for employees to work in teams, outside of their own departments and hence sharing of new innovative ideas.
“Leaders need to create teams that are forward thinking. Having this blend of diverse experience, encourages team to collaborate more, hence, the tools to help businesses close the gaps are essential to bring this transformation amongst people. If both of these sets of employees are interacting well, the learnings will be more beneficial to a business’s performance,” he advises.
Establishing a culture of growth and employee experience within SMEs
While the needs of SMEs differ from larger enterprises with more resources, Mr Tang suggests that some of their limitations can be overcome through cloud technology.
“The cloud enables SMEs to leverage the same technology advancements that were previously only attainable for large enterprises. The advantage that SMEs have is the ability to transform or educate their employees at a faster pace, considering they are smaller in size. Creating the buy in is crucial to the culture of growth of the organisation,” he advises.